AG: “Ornament” – “only 4.95, / this beautiful ornament actually chirps like a bird”
(That’s the whole poem, that’s really great!)
“Lovers Dream”– “They woke together & found themselves’ (Now he’s dealing with more impalpable material – a dream) “They woke together & found themselves in a small white/ room. there was one window, & out the window fog hanging/over the skeletal city. an official began haranguing/ them; he forced them to write on pieces of paper. he/ sang to them & pleaded that they cooperate. when they/ moved to the window to see the fog he became angry &/ claimed they had ruined everything.”
“Shopping Plaza” -“We are in Row A7./ The landscape of cars extends out of sight./ It is a grey evening./ Small groups of people hurry into the stores,/ talking their plans out./ Their footsteps sound hollow over the asphalt./Now they are gone./ It is the emptiness of the wind” – (that’s a good little description)
“The Riot” – (“housewives line the route from the airport,/when the senator arrives,/ they begin spitting and shouting./signs denounce his stand on the busing of black children./he is calm,/but does not stay around to talk./the women and their men are pounding the windows/as he walks thru the corridor./the police are called in and resort to tear gas.”) – (That’s really good. Because very few people can write political poetry, or use newspaper generalization or abstraction, though this looks like he was actually on the spot – “women and..men are pounding the windows/ as he walks thru the corridor” – that’s really a modern.. modern what? – airport? supermarket? some piece of construction)
“Cemetery” – (“over the headstones there are the naked branches,/thru which we see the lighted windows of the office/buildings rising out of the mist”) – (That’s a nice little Chinese landscape)
This is a poem.. I guess the title.. (he) got his idea from..for his press..he had this little press called “Big Scream”, or magazine. So this poem is called “Big Scream” – “ivy grows out of the balding head of the university intellectual, his hands sprout wands./he feels light as air! he finds himself dancing! suddenly his a satyr, prancing over an ashen landscape!/as he loks down, his legs turn to ashes, he begins screaming! MY BOOKS! MY LIBRARIES! MY PhD! ALL MY AMBITIONS!
AG: Well, it may be some sort of fantasy thing I may be dreaming, daydreaming, say – “a satyr, prancing over the ashen landscape!”
“Down on the Farm” – The cows stare at us, empty-eyes/ A fat man approaches us, saying,/ there’s a lot of hamburger on the hoof, ha ha” – 3 – “The woods have not been touched…” – It’s called “Down on The Farm” – “The woods have not been touched they’re moist & ancient,/thick trunks go high up without branches./silence/ my breathing, the air entering and leaving my lungs” – (That’s not too spectacular, but it’s an interesting moment of perception where the person, the perceiver becomes aware of, sort of, the space around, and maybe some detail in the space, and himself as part of the impersonal space, just the breathing.) And there is a poem by (William Carlos) Williams I always liked like that. Those of you who have been in classes with me probably have heard it any number of times. It’s called “Thursday” (two-oh-two – “Thursday”, page two-oh-two, Collected Earlier Poems of (William Carlos) Williams ) – I’ll read Cope’s again – “The woods have not been touched they’re moist & ancient,/thick trunks go high up without branches./silence/ my breathing, the air entering and leaving my lungs” – Williams’ “Thursday” – “I have had my dream – like others -/and it has come to nothing, so that/I remain now carelessly/with feet planted on the ground/and look up at the sky -/feeling my clothes about me,/the weight of my body in my shoes,/the rim of my hat, air passing in and out at my nose – and decide to dream no more.”
Williams is a lot more complete – and that moment of perception in Williams is much more… I guess almost everybody’s had it…of being reduced to a…like, you know. say a moment of being reduced to no ideas but actually just staring there, breathing, or lying in bed as a kid, following your breath, or, say, coming to total catastrophe and emotional bankrupcy and taking refuge in the Buddha and sitting down on a pillow and meditating.
In any case, an archetypal experience, whether you’re a Yankee pragmatic follower of William James or an Oriental specialist.
Student: Can you read it again?
AG: “Thursday” – “I have had my dream – like others -/and it has come to nothing, so that/I remain now carelessly/with feet planted on the ground/and look up at the sky -/feeling my clothes about me,/the weight of my body in my shoes,/the rim of my hat, air passing in and out at my nose – and decide to dream no more.”- Well, any of you who do any meditation practice will understand what he means by “and decide to dream no more” – and I guess you could figure it out anyway even if you don’t.
– “my breathing, the air leaving and entering my lungs” – good old David Cope!
“Traffic Island” – “The deep Ohio night is silent and fogged/cars head down the ramp,/ travelers sleep sitting up in their cars,/ the faint odor of smaoke hangs in the air./in the service center country music twangs & blares,/ a fat, fortyish woman sits and preens,/her eyes rimmed in black./small children rub their eyes, stare out the windows/as if expecting a sunrise/ reddish clouds, (the) white sky” – [The end isn’t very good. I like that “faint odor of smoke hangs in the air” – in the traffic island – I guess that’s a highway traffic island where you stop and (maybe) go and take a piss, get a map – “a “faint odor of smoke hangs in the air./ in the service center country music playing…
So that was his first book. That’s quite a lot of perception.
And the second book, he’s even better, I thought – called The Stars – So I’m going to read you… Is this interesting? Is it uninteresting to anyone? Yes?
[Audio for the above can be heard here, starting at approximately fifty-two-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately sixty-and-three quarter minutes in]